Bishop’s Letter on Seminarian Appeal

Dear friend in Christ,

If you’ve been paying attention to the media coverage of our Church, the picture might appear pretty bleak. Of course, there is always so much more to the story. While there are troubles, to be sure, the Lord, as is his wont, is moving powerfully within the struggle to bring new life and hope to his people.

One of the many clear signs of this truth, a sign that needs to be known and celebrated, is the fact that the Diocese of Helena has 17 men in priestly formation for the 2012-13 year, our largest number in 42 years. What a sign of God’s faithfulness!

As bishop, I have had the blessing of coming to know each of these men personally. They are good men: balanced, intellectually gifted, joyful, generous and solid. Each man has his own story, his own set of gifts that he brings to our diocese.

Above all, these men seek to give themselves entirely in service to our Lord and to his people as priests. In the midst of our distracted and distracting culture, they have heard the voice of Christ calling them to something worthy of themselves: a life of radical, priestly discipleship rooted in intimate prayer, joyful service and steadfast faithfulness to the Church. In short, these men are seeking that their hearts become one with the heart of the Good Shepherd.

As one priest recently told Father Marc Lenneman, our diocesan vocations director, after interviewing a number of our men for admission to the seminary where he works, “These men make me want to be a better priest.” I certainly echo that sentiment.

The blessing of this many vocations presents one particular challenge: the cost of one year of priestly formation averages $45,000 for tuition, room and board, and a monthly stipend. With 17 men in priestly studies, that total is approximately $765,000. We need help in meeting this cost.

Would you be willing to make an investment in the future of the diocese by helping support the men who will bring the sacraments, priestly presence and spiritual guidance to you, your children and your grandchildren?

First and foremost, I ask that you pray for our men and for an increase in the number of men who hear the call to serve as priests in the Diocese of Helena. I especially thank those of you who consistently offer prayers and sacrifices for these men and for all our priests. Your prayers are obviously being heeded! If, in addition to your prayers, you can make a financial contribution of any size, please see how to do so here. It might be the case that you could sponsor all or part of one seminarian’s formation costs.

I’d like to thank Father Lenneman, director of vocations, and all the priests throughout the diocese who promote vocations by their joyful witness and love for Christ and his Church. These men are instrumental in helping plant and cultivate the seeds that lead to future priestly vocations.

My deepest gratitude goes to you for your prayers and many other contributions. Our seminarians feel the love of the people in the diocese. In just a few short years, you will see the love they have for you as they serve you in the parishes. May God continue to bless us with the “problem” of so many good vocations!

Sincerely yours in Jesus Christ and Mary,

Most Reverend George Leo Thomas
Bishop of Helena
August 17, 2012.